by Lauren Coulson Reed

When it comes to marketing campaigns, it’s not always about what you do, as it is how you do it. Dove’s “Real Beauty Sketches” campaign became successful by targeting women’s insecurities in how they view themselves compared to how others see them, and bringing these insecurities to the surface in the form of forensic sketches.

Dove "Real Beauty Sketch"

Dove “Real Beauty Sketch”

To test if women see themselves less accurately than strangers do, Dove chose seven women of various ages and ethnic backgrounds to describe their own facial features to a trained FBI forensic artist, Gil Zamora, who would then draw composite sketches. The women were separated from the sketch artist by only a curtain, but as they entered and exited the location for the experiment he remained facing away from them so as to not see their faces. The women’s descriptions of themselves were all but positive, saying things like, “I kind of have a fat, rounder face.” Then Zamora would create images of the same women based off of descriptions provided by a complete stranger. In most cases, the sketches based on the strangers’ perspectives turned out to be not only more accurate, but more flattering also. The two images were then hung side-by-side so the women could compare and contrast the differences. After seeing how a complete stranger viewed them many of the women admitted that they should be more grateful for their natural beauty. The beauty that they hadn’t realized was even there before the experiment. The tagline of the campaign was, “You are more beautiful than you think.”

I think it is important to note that Dove’s campaign did not show women using their products to enhance their beauty, but rather showed women realizing their own natural beauty that they had been blind to all along. The campaign highlighted the reality of self-esteem issues that 54% percent of women worldwide confess to having. Half of the female population admits to being their own worst critic and putting themselves down.

Dove’s “Real Beauty Sketches” campaign was successful through the impact it had on its consumers, the social media responses it generated and with the marketing awards it received. In less than a month the viral advertising video gained more than 114 million views, making it the most watched ad ever. The Dove brand made an effort to spread their message worldwide by uploading the videos in 25 languages to 33 of its official YouTube channels, reaching customers in more than 110 countries. “Real Beauty Sketches” generated close to 3.8 million shares in its first month online, adding 15,000 new subscribers to Dove’s YouTube channel over the following two months, which proves just how much women were affected by the campaign. As well as social platforms, the ad also appeared in print features, broadcast news and online discussions. The campaign took home the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity’s highest honour, the Titanium Grand Prix and also won an Integrated Gold Lion.

To improve on this already successful and impactful campaign I as Dove would have integrated a Twitter hashtag that their followers could have tweeted at them along with a picture of themselves displaying one of their natural features that they find beautiful. A suggested hashtag could be #ReallyLovingMyRealBeauty. How else could Dove have taken their campaign a step further?



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